Types Of Foundations
When it comes to building a new home, it all starts with a solid foundation. Most people take their homes’ foundation for granted, especially if they come from another part of the country. People from the Midwest are used to having a basement, while people in Florida are accustomed to having homes built on a slab.
But for people who relocate to the Triangle, or even those who have been here awhile, thinking about the different kinds of foundations is likely unfamiliar territory, because all kinds can be found here. Understanding the different kinds of foundations, and the pros and cons of each, is important for anyone considering buying a home here.
There are three basic kinds of foundation, each with its pros and cons:
1. Homes with Basements
The only time a home in this area has a basement is when it’s built on a sloped lot and the builder has no choice. One side of the basement (usually the back of the home) will be a walk-out, while the opposite side is below grade.
Pros: Walk-out basements offer additional living space that can be used for a rec room, additional bedrooms, or storage. Their convenient access to the back yard can be a nice feature.
Cons: In this area, basements are prone to problems associated with moisture - mold, water damage, buckling walls. Basement walls can be waterproofed, but this is not always done correctly, and on older homes may not have been done at all.
Verdict: If you’re considering a home with a basement, proceed with caution, as the potential problems may outweigh the benefits.
2. Slab on Grade Foundations
A slab foundation is the easiest for contractors to build. It’s basically just four to six inches of concrete poured over a leveled, compacted piece of ground.
Pros: Slabs allow the entry to be at grade level, or slightly above, eliminating the need for steps or ramps. It’s also the least expensive foundation to build.
Cons: Plumbing and other pipes are sealed into the concrete. If leaks or other problems occur, or if you want to remodel, accessing pipes will be difficult and expensive. Slabs are also subject to moisture problems if they aren’t waterproofed well.
Verdict: Unless grade-level access to the home is important, we do not recommend homes with slab foundations.
3. Homes with a Crawlspace
Homes with crawlspaces are the most common in the Triangle. This involves building a concrete or brick footing that sits about 30 inches above grade. They will include a vapor barrier and insulation below the ground floor, depending on if it’s a sealed or ventilated crawlspace.
Pros: Crawlspaces offer greater energy efficiency and permit easier access to mechanicals for repairs or renovations. Ventilated crawlspaces can also offer some storage space, depending on the height
Cons: The house is built at least a couple feet above grade, making steps or ramps necessary. For ventilated crawlspaces, care must be taken to close them off in the winter to prevent freezing pipes.
Verdict: If steps or ramps are not a concern, we believe crawlspaces are the best foundation type for this area.
For more information about foundations and buying and selling homes in the Triangle, or just general questions about buying a new-contructon home, contact My NC Homes today online or by phone at 919.659.5173.